Drop should from your vocabulary and notice the difference it makes
- Tracey Hancock
The word should seems innocent enough but it often leads us to set unrealistic expectations or at least expectations based on what we think others expect of us. Take for example something like this ... by age 35 I should be married, I should live in a house that my husband/wife and I own, I should have the perfect career, and I should have 2 children + a dog.
Then what happens when you turn age 35 and you don’t have all of that? For many people, this leads to all sorts of struggles and health issues. The pressure to live a certain way and to have done or achieved certain things leads to stress, depression and anxiety.
Should, a commonly used word
Should is a word that most people use every day, in fact, several times a day.
Think about how you use it...
- I should get that job done
- I should visit (insert the name of the person)
- I should ring (insert the name of the person)
- I should be married by now
- I should have a house with a white picket fence by now
- I should have $xxx amount of money in my bank account
- I should have 2 children by now
- I should do more in the community
- I should have a senior management job by now
- I should be earning more money
- I should exercise more often
- I should meditate more
- I should eat better
- I should get my taxes done
- I should have my life all figured out
- I should....
Should implies you’re not doing something or haven’t yet achieved something and you ought to have.
Often what follows a should statement is a downward spiral of thoughts that are negative, harsh and critical. And generally speaking, one of two things will then happen. One, you won’t do whatever it was you thought you should do. Or two, you do it but you feel out of sorts, grumpy, stressed or annoyed that you have to do it.
Let’s get practical about all this should talk.
Notice how you feel when you repeat the sentences below. Now if finishing your taxes isn’t relevant to you, swap it for something else. Remember, as you repeat each sentence notice how you feel.
1. I would like to finish my taxes today.
2. I could finish my taxes today.
3. I should do my taxes today.
4. I have to do my taxes today.
Would and could imply that you have a choice. It’s up to you whether you do your taxes today or not, you can choose using your own free will. These are encouraging words that your brain perceives as being positive (and therefore not a threat that it needs to launch a stress response too!).
Compare that with should and have to. These two words, even for those who like the feeling of last minute pressure, will trigger a stress response in your body. When we use them we give away our power to choose, our own free will, causing dis-ease within our mind and body that can, over time, show up as illness.
Notice when you use should in a statement and how you feel. Repeat the thought or statement but this time replace should (or have to) with would or could, and notice the difference.
Be kind and loving towards yourself as you make this adjustment to the words you use. If out of the 20+ times you say should today you notice it once and swap out the word, acknowledge yourself for noticing and making the change. Repeat.
Know someone, someone you love and care for, who needs to hear this message too? Please share.
Tracey Hancock is a coach and mentor to people who are ready to put themselves and their health at the heart of everything they do in life and business. If you know it's time to be the REAL you and to live well, contact Tracey to learn more about the REALiving approach.